MENA’s Digital News, Week #38

A weekly round up of the top headlines from the digital sector in MENA, covering startups, corporate and the public sector.

First order of business: Farah Nakouzi has joined me to launch the Arabic “MENA’s Digital News” Channels on Telegram and Whatsapp!

Some changes will come to the weekly roundup soon, but I appreciate your patience 🙌🏻

Now let’s get to it, it’s been a long week!

Investments & Acquisitions

BSynchro, Beirut based insurtech, raises $1M from Berytech & Phoenician Fund http://bit.ly/2Fug6NQ 

Hopi, D2C contact lenses startups, raises seed funding from Esanjo (the latest venture of Jadopado’s Founder) – undisclosed amount http://bit.ly/2KxFXZk

Foodics, Saudi POS tech, raises $4M from Riyadh Taqnia Fund (RTF), Fatih Capital, Tech Invest Com and Naseel Holding http://bit.ly/2XJsQuF (AR) http://bit.ly/2KJDIT7 

Breadfast, Cairo-based baked goods and breakfast delivery startup, raises series A, led by 500 Startups & Egyptian angel investor, and gets accepted to YC combinator http://bit.ly/2KCM8M1

Sprii, eCommerce platform for mothers, raises $8.5M in funding from undisclosed investors http://bit.ly/2RwK6NO 

Noon Academy, Saudi EdTech startup, raises $8.6M co-led by Raed Ventures and Saudi Technology Ventures (STV) http://bit.ly/2KHWRVt (AR) http://bit.ly/2KH7UOu 

Elmenus, Egypt-based food delivery and discovery platform, is raising a series B with commitments currently secured from angel investors http://bit.ly/2NcMaw8

Beyond Capital, Jordan, announces investment in 5 startups under their Scout Program: Bilforon, 360Moms, Addenda, Silkroad Audio http://bit.ly/31VHaiP 

Sector News

Noon.com, re-announces free delivery on all orders. The first announcement was done last week, but was later withdrawn across channels http://bit.ly/2IVmnTB 

Tencent Games to open offices in Dubai’s Internet City http://bit.ly/2Jav1xK 

Oman’s Information Technology Authority (ITA) initiated a new accelerator in the sultanate: Sas Accelerator, powered by Google Developers Launchpad program. First cohort announced. http://bit.ly/2LcNSek

UAE Ministry of Economy approves Careem‘s acquisition by Uber http://bit.ly/2FwNJPn

Toters, Lebanon-based food delivery app, expands to Riyadh (announced via email only) 

Seedstars launched its second MENA hub in Morocco, with commitments to invest in startups through Investment Readiness Program and the Seedstars World. The first was in Cairo http://bit.ly/2Xckvjl 

Fintech

Souqalmal.com, Dubai-based insurtech startup, to expand services to Bahrain http://bit.ly/31TcwGA 

MENA Fintech Association (MFTA) was launched yesterday in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and the Arab Monetary Fund http://bit.ly/2WZrQhn 
Link to the MENA Fintech Association website http://bit.ly/2IDBsu8

DEX (Digital Assets Exchange) has secured in principle approval from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) to operate a Crypto Asset Exchange http://bit.ly/2Yagqcb (this is the second digital asset platform getting initial approval this month) 

Central Bank of Egypt‘s old building in Cairo to be turned into a Fintech Campus. Announcement was made by Greek Campus and Sawari Ventures founder, Ahmed Alfi http://bit.ly/2J4TNQ1

A Public Sector Overhaul in the UAE

UAE’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA)’s & Dubai 10X have collaborated on a new initiative: Rahhal, providing “innovative learning pathways blending traditional education with industry qualifications”. Under this initiative GEMS schools and Siemens sign an MoU signed a collaboration to build more integration between schools and industry http://bit.ly/2RvMcOa (to note: GEMS school just expanded it’s investments in Saudi last month)

UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, TRA, launches the ‘UAE National Cybersecurity Strategy’ http://bit.ly/2Xxg3Lw The strategy’s page and full length reading here http://bit.ly/2Xa8OtP (AR) http://bit.ly/2RB4rBN

Ghadan 21, Abu Dhabi, announces: – New ~$1.2B R&D Fund – Energy consumption discounts to enterprises – “open data” access to gov’t collected data – shorter payment cycles for gov’t contractors, 30 days – increased number of services that can be applied for online http://bit.ly/2xdRrJ0

Further Readings

Tech/Digital

Snapchat study hows that users of the platform in Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the two most dominant markets in using snapchat as a messaging platform http://bit.ly/2FyBTnD 

Byblos Bank, Lebanon, launches a new Data Center, “the only Uptime Institute Tier III certified constructed facility” http://bit.ly/2WZPiej

IBM is launching two new centers in Cairo: Industry Client Center and Marketing Services Center http://bit.ly/31Pk51f

Non Tech/ Digital (Economic)

PSA Group, French Peugeot Citroen manufacturer, launches factory in Morocco http://bit.ly/2KtwGBT 

Tunisia Secures $131.7M Fund from French Development Agency to Develop Its Smart Grid Project http://bit.ly/2KvwFgE

Saudi Arabia now accepting online applications for the permanent residency program http://bit.ly/2IB2Gl4

Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) announces 15 MOUs and agreements with South Korean investors, around Artificial Intelligence for Healthcare, Solar Energy Sector among others http://bit.ly/322huBh

Long Read

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report on Economic Development in Africa 2019 http://bit.ly/2X8Kkw9


To get your daily dose subscribe to MENA’s Digital News telegram channel here: https://t.me/technologyinmena

MENA's Digital News on Telegram

Or you on whatsapp (admin posting only) right here


MENA’s Digital News, Week #33

A weekly round up of the top headlines from the digital sector in MENA, covering startups, corporate and the public sector.

Investments & Acquisitions

Resal, Saudi gifting ecommerce, raises $800k Pre-Series A (EN) http://bit.ly/2WQdH6T (AR) http://bit.ly/2w20lIZ 

InstaDeep, Tunisian enterprise AI startup, raises $7M in Series A from AfricInvest and Endeavor Catalyst http://bit.ly/2DZJTxe 

Wadi.com, Saudi grocery delivery, gets acquired by Majid Al Futtaim (MAF). MAF had invested in Wadi in late October, after-which it pivoted to focus completely on grocery delivery from general eCommerce http://bit.ly/2Hmwd1h

Heetch, French ride-hailing startup with presence in Morocco, raises $38M from from Cathay Innovation, Idinvest Partners, Innov’Allianz, Total Ventures, Alven and Felix Capital, and plans expansion to Algeria and some other markets http://bit.ly/2HhmeJr

Gofers, Indian online grocery startup, raises $200M led by SoftBank Vision Fund http://bit.ly/2JkY8ku

Sector News

12 startup accelerators and incubators from across MENA announce a partnership to support their portfolio companies with knowledge sharing, soft-landing and resources http://bit.ly/2WNPfD7

COFE, Kuwait’s coffee delivery app, signs exclusive “partnership” with Deliveroo in Kuwait and UAE http://bit.ly/2W0pHFF 

BitOasis is granted “preliminary license… to operate a digital asset wallet and a trading platform” by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority https://bloom.bg/2HePx0l 

Careem Bus expands to Saudi, launches an inter-city bus service between Jeddah and Makkah http://bit.ly/2JCXEpe

The National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) launches open banking protocols, becoming the first regional bank to allow any third parties to provide utilize their banking data http://bit.ly/2Q5U7AZ

Abu Dhabi announces enhanced “Guidance for the Regulation of Crypto Asset Activities” http://bit.ly/2VpiWZG

Further Readings

Jordan established Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship (AR) http://bit.ly/30aEi0y

APCO Worldwide, global PR agency, opens Bahrain office http://bit.ly/2DZUZCv 

Dubai “plans” unified free-zone license http://bit.ly/2LFrlJ4 

UAE “plans to set up” expat retirement funds led by DIFC for employees working within its financial free zone. No final agreement has been reached, but the discussions are ongoing http://bit.ly/2Q1ETgp

The Human Race is On!

One of the biggest shortages in the world today is talent. Good talent can genuinely make or break a company, or even a country.

Governments today are faced with a two-prongs nurture local talent, attract international talent. I think all governments need both, and urgently. Local talent is irreplaceable, but expats that are willing to leave the comfort of their home country and bring in fresh perspectives, methodologies and experiences are just as important for innovation and economic growth.

Which is what we’re seeing today among GCC countries. Almost every week a new announcement on long term visas, retirement vehicles, and increasing the ease-of-doing-business. If talent sees a country as a great way to make money and leave, then they’ll do just that. Then leave to invest their lives somewhere else that’ll provide them with stability and nurture.

As the world shifts to an the increasingly competitive grab for global talent (and the global and regional refugee crisis) it may be worthwhile to remember human progression does not have to be a zero sum game.


To get your daily dose subscribe to MENA’s Digital News telegram channel here: https://t.me/technologyinmena

MENA's Digital News on Telegram

Or you on whatsapp (admin posting only) right here

MENA’s Digital News, Week #28

A weekly round up of the top headlines from the digital sector in MENA, covering startups, corporate and the public sector.

This week was so packed I had to further split sections and cut out some news to make it even reasonable to follow! Good times ahead

Investments (and 1 IPO)

Network International Sells $1.4B of Stock in Europe’s Biggest IPO of 2019 YTD https://bloom.bg/2uWGtpZ 

YaLLa Esports, MENA esports entity, raised seed funding round from a group of “strategic investors” http://bit.ly/2U4QI62 

Haseel, Saudi fresh food’s mobile app, raises funding led by Riyadh Taqnia Fund and joined by Vision Ventures and 500 Startups (EN) http://bit.ly/2KuUhCU (AR) http://bit.ly/2XbNFuP 

PointCheckout raises $600k from Arzan VC, 500 Startups, Dubai Angel Investors, Hala VC, and DTEC Ventures. http://bit.ly/2UqDTI5 

CaptainPanel, Kuwaiti SaaS for maritime activities, raises $1.2M from Faith Capital and 500 Startups. (CaptainPanel is an expansion of Fishfishme, the yacht/boat booking platform started in 2012) http://bit.ly/2GhDf63 

Oliv, dubai based career portal, raises $2M in series A ed by Aloshban and Alnamlah Family Groups in Saudi Arabia, and Mohammed Khoory in the UAE http://bit.ly/2OVvJl2

ProTenders, Dubai based “construction intelligence and procurement company”, raises $3M in pre-series A from undisclosed investors http://bit.ly/2UIZTNC

ArabyAds raises $6.5M in funding from Equitrust, the investment arm of Choueiri Group http://bit.ly/2OScbhz 

Shedul, booking platform for salons and spas, raises $20M in Series B at a $105M valuation https://tcrn.ch/2Z1npVr  

AWOK.com, Dubai based e-commerce platform, closes $30M series A from StonePine ACE Partners and Al Faisaliah Ventures and co-invested by Endeavor Catalyst http://bit.ly/2G9qR9k 

Acquisitions

Noon “acquires” Sivvi, Dubai based eCommerce, owned by Rashid Al Abbar, Mohammed Al Abbar’s Son http://bit.ly/2VpNScZ 

Bayut acquires Rocket Internet’s property portal Lamudi in UAE, Saudi & Jordan to fuel its expansion across GCC http://bit.ly/2UKr3E2

Vista Global, Dubai based charter flights booking, to acquire JetSmarter, US based on demand charter booking app http://bit.ly/2IrPMq

Property Finder to Acquire JRD Group, UAE-based real estate technology provider http://bit.ly/2U520Hp 

Sector News

Choueiri Group launches a TV attribution performance product, “Brand4mance” http://bit.ly/2D0isTl

BroadcastPro ME on Twitter

Twitter expands #videocontent in #MENA with over 16 partnerships. https://t.co/Cxq4LbDSXF

Twitter MENA, signs content partnership deals with 17 media houses to produce / host featured content http://bit.ly/2GcSnmj

Reebok launches eCommerce site to serve the UAE and Saudi markets http://bit.ly/2IsWn3H

Uber partners with Dryve, egypt-based car-sharing platform http://bit.ly/2P1LM0V 

AlAnsari Exchange, UAE, to launch multi-currency travel card with Wirecard, Germany http://bit.ly/2uYaXIf

Zoho partners with Paytabs in MENA as part of their regional expansion http://bit.ly/2InGrzH 

Funding Ecosystem

Seedstars announces $100M fund to invest in African tech startups in collaboration with Paris based First Growth Ventures http://bit.ly/2D2fk9w

Saudi Arabia to Launch a Bank for SMEs http://bit.ly/2UuMx7B 

AfricInvest and Cathay Capital launch $169M African venture fund http://bit.ly/2P7XAyE

Startupbootcamp FinTech Dubai Accelerator adds Mashreq bank as a backer for the program (Visa, HSBC and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) are already onboard). http://bit.ly/2Uu8epd

IFC is now backing both Startupbootcamp Fintech Cairo and AUC Venture Lab http://bit.ly/2KuDcsT

The World Bank allocates $200M to support entrepreneurship and SMEs in Egypt http://bit.ly/2Dac4Jz 

Mubadala opens NY office, focus on financial services, private equity https://reut.rs/2UNJ8kw

Government Support

UAE government to offer long-term (5 year) visas to start-ups, starting with the “top 100 startups” selected for the World Economic Forum that just took place in Jordan http://bit.ly/2U48XbP 

UAE and Saudi Arabia sign MoU to develop digital education system. MoU also involved university twinnings across 8 universities – no details on the MoU’s detailed outlook yet http://bit.ly/2DjOeez

Badir Program, Saudi, partners with Propeller in Jordan, http://bit.ly/2Ua00gU

Long Reads

Mintrics launches report on the State of Social Video in Egypt (in time for Ramadan preps) http://bit.ly/2G8Gn5f


To get your daily dose subscribe to MENA’s Digital News telegram channel here: https://t.me/technologyinmena

MENA's Digital News on Telegram

You now join the daily updates on whatsapp (admin posting only) right here